Mayweather has surprising ally in corner

Floyd Mayweather Jr. no longer beefs with Richard Schaefer, background, as he does with Oscar De La Hoya. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS -- Oscar De La Hoya questions the quality of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s opposition. Mayweather retorts by referring to De La Hoya's confessed drug and alcohol abuse and the infamous pictures of the Golden Boy in fishnets and heels -- not, De La Hoya now admits, photoshopped, but taken during a cocaine and booze binge.

There seems no love lost between fighter and promoter, a mutual snippiness that has existed since at least the time the two fought in 2007. But for De La Hoya's promotional partner, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, Mayweather has nothing but praise. Sitting with reporters on Tuesday, Mayweather corrected every mention of De La Hoya's promotional company by referring to it as Schaefer's.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Schaefer is similarly full of praise for Mayweather, insisting that the brash persona the public sees is quite different from the private man who reveals himself when the cameras are off, and is largely the result of calculated self-promotion.

"I've spent a lot of time with him one-on-one, and I've never met anyone who's so talented in the ring and equally talented outside the ring," Schaefer said of Mayweather on Tuesday. "He's a marketing genius, like I have never seen anyone before."

Schaefer readily admits that he didn't always feel that way, and it was only after he and the fighter spoke at length while sitting next to each other on a flight to London that they began to understand each other. Before then, the relationship was volcanic.

That initial hostility began with a series of stunts Mayweather pulled during the promotional tour for his fight with De La Hoya. First, he snatched De La Hoya's gym bag from the luggage carousel at the airport and kept it with his own bags. Then, seated on a dais at a media luncheon, he spied a server wheeling out De La Hoya's specially prepared meal. So he had a member of his team snatch that, too.

"He stole the food, and then the gym bag was missing. I'm a busy man, I don't have time for this," Schaefer recalled. "And I went to him and said, 'Enough of this childish behavior.' Face to face, you know. It was really bad. Actually, I told him, 'If you continue with this behavior, I'm going to send you back on the plane. I'm going to send you home.'"

It was, Schaefer said, "an ugly, ugly conversation and confrontation." But, he added, at no stage did Mayweather lose control or lay hands on him -- and that, combined with his experiences from being around Mayweather in the years since, makes him doubt the veracity of some of the lawsuits that have been leveled against the fighter, alleging various degrees of assault:

"When you are on top, like Floyd is, you have a big target on your back. When you push someone away, say 'Hey, leave me alone,' suddenly you've hit them in the face, and you basically have things that blow out of proportion because people know this is a guy who has deep pockets and a lot of money. The person I know is a completely different person from the person you hear described in these lawsuits. Do I think he could flip out? I don't think so. I think he's in complete control.

"I think there are a lot of people out there after him because he is on top, and when you are on top, there are always people trying to drag you into situations. Now, might it be that sometimes you do something you shouldn't do? Yeah, OK. But there are a lot of people out there, be they men or be they women, who are trophy hunters, and that's what it is -- it's a trophy hunt. 'Let me get Oscar. Let me get Floyd.' And that's not the Floyd I know, and that's not the Oscar I know."